Ashley Gillen Moments
Connecting with the people and places that are immediate and important tome is the essence of my process to making artwork. No matter where I am, this approach follows me. In points of flux, such as nearing the end of my time at Washington & Lee, I find myself focusing even more on the people around me and the connections I have made, as well as the people I may never see again. I paint my subjects as a means of reflection and memorialization of the moments spent with them and the relationships I have formed in the process.
Being born and raised in sunny Florida has inadvertently, but greatly impacted the way that I see the world around me and therefore the way that I paint it. I was constantly surrounded by sunlight and vibrant colors, both in nature and in the artwork I was exposed to. Now, in museums or galleries, my eye is naturally drawn to the most vibrant paintings on the walls. This attraction carries through to my own work in the exaggerated full-color palette I employ. This body of work should be viewed as two related series: large scale portraits and accompanying close-up hands. The portraits draw attention to the individual eccentricities of each subjects' personality: their facial expressions, clothing choices, and optional props. The patterned backgrounds can be seen as a contemporary take on spiritual attributes in traditional paintings, representing some item or element of importance to the subject. The hand studies allow a more abstracted glimpse into the individual character of the painted subject and is intended to compliment and elaborate on the portrait. Human hands have long been known to convey feeling and emotion in a way that even the face may not be capable of. The way that a subject moves and positions their hands fascinates me and is what ultimately gave rise to the hands series.